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Hibernation in the mountain pygmy possum burramys parvus marsupialia


Hibernation in the mountain pygmy possum burramys parvus marsupialia



Journal of Zoology (London) 223(4): 593-602



ISSN/ISBN: 0952-8369

DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1991.tb04390.x

Mountain pygmy possums Burramys parvus (40 g) disappear from their Mt. Kosciusko boulder fields from May to October/November and it is assumed that they hibernate during this time. However, laboratory studies did not observe the characteristic hibernation pattern of placentals, which, throughout the hibernation season, show long bouts of torpor (several days to weeks) that are interrupted by short (< 1 day) normothermic periods. We investigated the pattern of hibernation in juvenile (N = 8) and adult (N = 8) male and female B. parvus in the laboratory at an air temperature that was similar to that in the field during winter. Adults commenced hibernation earlier and hibernated longer (about seven months) than juveniles (about five months). All adult individuals hibernated whereas only six of the eight juveniles did so. Hibernating animals showed distinct seasonal changes in the duration of torpor bouts. Torpor bouts were short (about five days) at the beginning, long (12-20 days) during the middle, and short again at the end of the hibernation season. Normothermic periods were usually shorter than one day. The pattern of the seasonal change of torpor bout duration differed between juveniles and adults and between sexes. Body temperature during mid-hibernation was regulated at about 2.degree. C in females and 3.degree. C in males and the metabolic rate was similar to that of hibernating placentals.

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Accession: 007397674

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